|Module Title||WRITING SELVES|
|Co-ordinator||Dr Tiffany Atkinson|
|Course delivery||Workshop||20 Hours (10 x 2 hour workshop classes)|
|Assessment||Portfolio||Portfolio of Writing (One portfolio of writing of 3,000 words)||50%|
|Essay||Critical Essay (One agreed critical essay of 2,000 words)||50%|
1. Introduction - who am 'I' in writing?
Using a repertoire of starter exercises, this seminar will begin to explore the cultural assumptions and formal complexities involved in 'writing selves', while generating material for further writing.
2. Writing from Experience
From a selection of prompted memories, students will compare the process of telling their own and each other's stories. How do we edit, structure and fictionalise 'real' events to create an effective narrative? How are issues of authorial intention and truthfulness negotiated in this kind of writing? (Chapters 3 and 7 of Bennett and Royle)
3. First Person Techniques
This session will focus on the formal conventions of first person writing. Students will be required to bring their own favourite examples in poetry or prose, and to analyse how these texts convince readers of their speakers' 'reality'. Experimentation with these strategies, and awareness of their advantages and limitations, will form the basis of further focused writing from experience. (Chapter 13 of Bennett and Royle)
4. Realism and Omniscience
As readers we are so familiar with the well-rounded realist characters of novels such as Middlemarch and Tess of the D'Urbervilles that it is easy to forget that they are products of a particular writing process. Following close discussion of examples, students will create detailed 'character profiles' for a piece of third-person writing, or treat autobiographical material in the same manner. What are the advantages of 'objective' narration? Are realist attitudes towards selfhood adequate for the writing of contemporary consciousness? (Chapter 8 Bennett and Royle; and 'Expressive Realism', in Catherine Belsey 1980, 7-14).
This seminar explores the power of voice as a dramatic device, using examples from Alan Bennett's Talking Heads and Jackie Kay's The Adoption Papers. Observing how language can be a point of tension between the spoken and unspoken, or between rational intention and the unconscious, students will write a monologue of their own in which a character gives something away (a fear, an aspect of their past, an unspoken desire) 'despite themselves'. (Green and LeBihan, 146-153 'Freudian Psychoanalysis'; and Chapter 21 Bennett and Royle, 'Secrets')
6. Dialogue and Relationship
This session will comprise a practical emphasis on techniques for writing dialogue, but also look more broadly at issues of relationship and conflict in the writing of selves. Following a discussion of James Joyce's 'The Dead' and the opening pages of Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse, students will script a family or social gathering in a manner which reveals the tensions between, and histories of, its members without overt authorial statement or stereotyping. (Deirdre Burton, Dialogue and Discourse, 'A Stylistic study of Pinter's The Dumb Waiter)
7-8. Writing from Outside
These seminars will consider how Western humanist writing has 'silenced' selves marginalised by race, gender, sexuality or class. How can new writing resist conventional constructions of identity and still be intelligible? Following discussion of examples by Mike Jenkins, Tony Harrison, Grace Nichols and Jeanette Winterson, students will discuss first or second hand experiences of alienation, disempowerment or stereotyping, and write an oppositional piece which employs an 'outsider's' perspective. (Chapters 14 and 19, Bennett and Royal, 'Sexual Difference' and 'Racial Difference').
The final seminars explore how writers can work intertextually (and often politically) by giving voice to a marginalised subject from another's work, as in J.M. Coetzee's Foe, Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, or Carol Ann Duffy's The World and His Wife. Students will be invited to 'intervene' in a text of their choice, using any of the techniques practised throughout the module.
Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory: Key Critical Concepts (Prentice Hall 1995)
Keith Green and Jill LeBihan, Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook (Routledge 1996)
Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An introduction to literary and cultural theory (MUP 1995)
Catherine Belsey, Critical Practice (Routledge 1980)
Mark Currie, Postmodern Narrative Theory (Macmillan 1998)
Alison Donnell and Pauline Polkey (eds), Representing Lives: Women and Auto/biography (Macmillan 2000)
John Singleton and Mary Luckhurst, The Creative Writing Handbook 2nd edn (Macmillan 2000)